Autumn round-up

 

I’ve been away tasting and writing the second edition of my Lebanese wine guide, due out in November and published by Turning Point, Beirut. Standards have really improved and I am really excited about the project. Amazingly, wines that didn’t really cut the mustard back in 2010 when my first guide was published), proved to be some of the most exciting this time around.

Reds are still our strengths and there has  been a refreshing change in attitude to the use of oak. Many of Lebanon’s leading producers are admitting that their infatuation with wood is beginning to wane and they concede that many of their bigger wines used to be perhaps a bit too tannic. About time. The Lebanese palate is more suited to fruity “easy drinking” wines, while the international consumer has had his fill with heavily oaked wines. The upshot has been a more thoughtful use of oak in those international style wines that, for those who still like the experience, can be drunk now as well as put down.

Lebanese whites are also really beginning to hit the mark both with varietals and blends. Wines that a few years ago were correct but ultimately pedestrian are now starting to sing. Standing out in the 2011 vintage was Ixsir’s Altitudes, Cloud 9 from the Karam Winery, Batroun Mountains’ Chardonnay, Domaine Wardy’s Clos Blanc and Chateau Marsyas. Also worth a mention is the Blanc de L’Equinox by Nabise Mont Liban, nuanced and elegant and made with three Lebanese varieties: Obeideh, Merweh and Bayada. Always a good talking point.

Next stop for Lebanese wine is Izmir on November 10 for the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference. I will report back from what should be yet another landmark in the evolution of Eastern Mediterranean wines in the consciousness of the international consumer.

Finally, here is my autumnal top ten wines from some of Lebanon’s more obscure producers. All are red except 2 & 9 (Obviously)

  1. Evasion 2010 – Tazka (Khenchara, Metn)
  2. Blanc de L’Equinox – Nabise Mont Liban (Richmaya, Aley)
  3. Chateau 2006 – Cortbawi Winery (Jdeita, Bekaa)
  4. Domaine de Baal 2008 – Domaine de Baal (Zahleh, Bekaa)
  5. Chateau 2001 – Clos de Cana (Ras el Harf, Mount Lebanon)
  6. Pinot Noir 2011 – Reserve Ammiq (Ammiq, Western Bekaa)
  7. Iris Domaine 2007 – Iris Domaine (Btalloun, Mount Lebanon)
  8. Maison 2010 – Karam Winery (Jezzine, South Lebanon)
  9. Riesling 2011 – Batroun Mountains (Batroun, North Lebanon)
  10. Cuvée de L’Ange – Coteaux de Botrys
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